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Research

Dr. Laura Funk is presently leading two SSHRC-funded research teams.

Dying at Home
The purpose of this mixed methods study is to examine and compare public attitudes and policy on dying at home and responsibility for supporting home death. Our overall inquiry, as well as our methodological approach, is grounded in a critical theoretical orientation that attends to potential inequities and to the historical, social, political, and economic context of home care, palliative care and family care work in Canada. Objective 1 is to examine Canadians’ attitudes about home death and responsibility for EOL care at home, and identify correlates of variation. Objective 2 is to explore social meanings of dying at home and care responsibility within diverse and/or marginalized subgroups. Objective 3 is to explore implicit and explicit expectations regarding responsibility for supporting home death within policy documents. Objective 4 is to integrate these forms of knowledge to assess differences and similarities in public attitudes, subgroup meanings, and expectations embedded within policy texts, and explore how policies can generate inequities.

Older Adults & Violence Project
Older adults are more vulnerable to violence and experience the impacts of victimization more profoundly than other age groups. Elder abuse dominates much of the existing literature on the topic of violence and older adults, though tends to focus on violence perpetrated by family caregivers and paid care workers. More recently, there has been growing attention to another type of violence involving older adults –
violence towards paid service workers by older adults (often with cognitive impairment). Both forms of violence are likely to increase in our shifting demographic and economic context. Normally, however, these forms of violence, though both involving older adults, are studied as isolated phenomena. Moreover, existing research indicates little about how these various forms of violence and victimization are interpreted by those involved. In the proposed research project we will apply a uniquely broad focus to examine interpretations of, and emotional dynamics involved in, violence and victimization across a range of settings and relationships between and with older adults. Our research team is examining variations in subjective interpretations of violent interactions across home and institutional settings, and in differing relationships, including spousal relationships, resident relationships, and those between service
workers and older adult clients and their families. This includes situations of more traditionally conceptualized elder abuse as well as workplace violence (in both paid and unpaid work). The central research question is: how do older adults, their family members and paid service workers interpret interpersonal violence and victimization?